Eggs are products derived from animal exploitation. A hen in the egg industry is born for the purpose of laying eggs. They are selectively bred to produce maximum yields and their existence depends on their capacity to produce profit for the farmer. Throughout her life, a hen is deprived of her freedom, whether this is to produce 'free-range' or battery eggs (though the conditions in which they are exploited differ). Chickens are very sociable creatures who like to forage for food, roam in their environment, take dust-baths, perch, nest, lie in the sun and take care of their families. As such they suffer enormously when they are unable to exhibit the entire range of behaviours that come naturally to them.
All egg production, whether 'free-range' or battery involves the death of male chicks. Commercial egg-laying hens start out their lives in hatcheries, where, hatched in artificial incubators they will never know the care or comfort of a mother hen. Once hatched, the day-old chicks are separated by 'sexers' into females and males. Female chicks go on to become units of production - 'layer' hens - while male chicks, as they neither lay eggs or produce meat (different types of chickens, called 'broilers', are used for meat as they have been bred to grow much faster), they are killed at just a day old . either gassed, suffocated or minced alive.
On all types of farms, the hens also die at the hands of the industry when their productivity drops. After one or two years, a hen starts to produce fewer eggs than before, therefore 'free-range' farmers, just like intensive farmers, replace her with a younger hen. She could however live for ten years or more. All eggs found on supermarket shelves are produced from the exploitation of an individual.
These free range hens (left) are being rounded up and sent to the slaughterhouse at 1.5 years old
Photo by Jo-Anne McArthur
There are many alternatives to using eggs in cooking. Within cakes, banana, vegan yogurt or vegan cream can be used as a substitute which creates the desired texture. There are also egg replacers available from vegan suppliers and many whole foods stores.
Hens, or chickens, are very sociable creatures who like to forage for food, roam in their environment, take dust-baths, perch, nest, lie in the sun and take care of their families. As such they suffer enormously when they are unable to exhibit the entire range of behaviours that come naturally to them. While hens in the egg industry are rarely allowed to live beyond one or two years, rescued hens on sanctuaries can live for ten years or more.